HOW often do we look up from navigating our daily lives and realise, perhaps there could be more to this?
Some people live in a heightened state of awareness, knowing they are living the life they want, while some never really find their dreams no matter how long they search.
Some of us find the middle ground, where we are content with the things that we think make us feel complete, and settle.
No matter who you are and which category you belong to, the truth is, you are always going to want something more. After all, the grass is greener on the other side of the world.
Having lived in two different cultures, I have always noticed how Asians strive to better themselves and efforts of doing so are often applauded by friends, family and society.
Perhaps we are inspired by the American dream, where anything is possible as long as your heart is in it.
“Genius is one per cent inspiration and 99% perspiration.”
“The best thing in life is to do what people say you cannot do.”
These are some of the phrases that fuelled my ambitions.
Looking back from the remote countryside in the UK that my husband, me and our one-year-old are staying this weekend, these sentiments are an echo of a distant memory.
I was reading an interview in The Times about Tina Brown – the Brit who took Manhattan – a media mogul who dines with the Clintons and hang out with Angelina Jolie, and something got my attention.
She expressed a slightly insulting thought of people who live in Europe. “I think people get stuck in Europe,” she said, “while Americans rise and fall, switch coasts, divorce, change career, are almost exhaustingly mobile.” If she had stayed, “I might have had two more children and moved to Shropshire.” (English countryside.)
Now that got me thinking, is it so bad to want to move to the countryside and rear chickens and be content with your life?
Then it struck me, at one point in the not-so-distant past, I had wanted the same. After all, we work so hard in life and when we need to re-centre our thoughts, we go away to places like this.
But I grew up in the metropolis that is glorious Kuala Lumpur, a bustling bazaar of sizzling street food, colourful heritage and extraordinary people who love shopping complexes, switching accents and slangs as they go, and who never get tired of achieving.
Perhaps the peaceful happy ending of moving into a country house and rearing chickens that we so often hear about is not for everyone.
Some of us prefer to be in constant movement, to live a life of star-spangled rhapsody, interacting with the world, and shudder at the thought of living in isolation. We need to be around people.
And so this got me thinking about the beauty of life, its fluidity and movement, if only we allow it to be dynamic.
At any one point in it, we may transition from someone who had it all, to losing it all; someone who had nothing to someone who then grew content with their lives only to grow bored of the very thing that they thought made them happy.
And the best part of it?
As long as you are fit and healthy and your mind is in the right place, you are able to meander from one state of life to another.
If only you would allow yourself to go with the flow.
When I was asked as a 20-something what I wanted in life, I said I just wanted to be happy.
Now, the 30-something me would revise that: I want to be interesting, to always have the awareness to examine what I love about this existence and what it takes to bring happiness to the people I love.
Life allows us second chances, whether yours is the hope for change while you are neck and neck with your colleagues in a stressful company’s board meeting, or you are sauntering among the relaxing vibe of people in London’s Regents Park.
Here’s the thing, whether we are happy with our place in life or not, there is an opportunity for change.
There’s a season for everything, from slowing down the pace to picking it up again.
A season for material gains. A season for appreciating familial love. A season for working on friendships or yourselves. A season for achieving your dreams.
At the turn of the new year, as we put the ebb and flow of 2015 behind us, I hope that 2016 brings you the attainment of whatever you want.
Make this your season for change!
As published in Malaysia’s The Star Metro, January 2, 2016.